LING419: Fitting Syntax and Semantics Together
Spring 2009

When a human being knows a language, he/she knows that certain sounds are paired with certain meanings. In your syntax classes, you've basically learnt that certain sounds are paired with certain tree structures. The aim of this course is to complete the picture by looking at how those tree structures relate to meanings, and look at why the syntax-centric approach that you have been exposed to has become popular.

Course syllabus

Background readings

Some background readings on set theory, functions and relations (from Partee et al., Mathematical Methods in Linguistics). The first two chapters in particular will probably be useful for the course. The third is less important but may be useful for practising thinking about the concepts of functions and relations.

For lambda notation:

For some introductory logic:

And in case you've tried some exercises from any of these chapters of the Partee et al. book, I've scanned the relevant solutions.



This is subject to change, as stated on the syllabus.

Date Topic Student
Readings Notes/Extras
Mon 26 Jan Course intro/Big picture
Wed 28 Jan Cancelled — Tim in Chicago
Mon 2 Feb Big picture/CG Basics Steedman 1996, ch.2
(ignore 2.1.3, 2.1.4, 2.1.5; but see p.23 for the $ notation)
Wed 4 Feb CG Basics
Mon 9 Feb Semantics and Quantification in CGs General semantics: Steedman 1996, ch.2, pp.12-15
Quantification: Steedman 2000, section 4.4
Understanding slashes
and lambdas
Wed 11 Feb Semantics and Quantification in CGs
Mon 16 Feb Semantics and Quantification in CGs
Wed 18 Feb Locality restrictions: CG accounts Steedman 1996, ch.3
(as a start, try sections 3.4.1 and 3.5.1)
Overview: Locality in CG
Semantics of relative clauses
Mon 23 Feb Locality restrictions: CG accounts
Wed 25 Feb Locality restrictions: Transformational accounts Michael Haegemann 1994 excerpts: Subjacency and ECP
Mon 2 Mar Cancelled — Snow
Wed 4 Mar Locality restrictions: Evidence from Chinese Ryan Huang 1982 (mainly sections 1 and 3) More on CG: see bottom of this page
More Huang on LF
Pietroski on Logical Form (section 8)
Mon 9 Mar Interim Summary/CG Wrap up
Wed 11 Mar Quantification in Transformational Grammar Claire Heim and Kratzer 1998, ch.6, ch.7 (focus on 6.3, 6.4, 7.1, 7.3)
Mon 16 Mar Spring Break
Wed 18 Mar
Mon 23 Mar Conservativity of determiners Josh Hunter and Conroy 2008 (Easy reading! Written for non-linguists!) Barwise and Cooper 1981
Wed 25 Mar Quantification summary
Mon 30 Mar Event semantics Ederlyn Parsons 1990, ch.1-2 Pietroski 2005 introduction
(mainly section 2)
Wed 1 Apr Event semantics
Mon 6 Apr Event semantics
Wed 8 Apr Adjunction: X-bar theory Lyndsay Carnie 2007, ch.6, ch.7 on DPs All of Carnie 2007, ch.7
Mon 13 Apr Adjunction: X-bar theory Hornstein et al., ch. 6, sections 6.1 to 6.3
Wed 15 Apr Adjunction: Bare phrase structure
Mon 20 Apr Paper topic brainstorming
Wed 22 Apr Adjunction: Bare phrase structure Laura Hornstein and Nunes 2008 (Don't worry about section 5) Pietroski 2006: conjunction everywhere
Mon 27 Apr Paper topic presentations/discussions
Wed 29 Apr Paper topic presentations/discussions
Mon 4 May Meaning and verification Sara Hunter et al. 2008
Pietroski et al. to appear
Wed 6 May Copying (and perhaps mass/count distinctions) Hornstein et al., ch. 6, section 6.4
Mon 11 May Wrap up What we've done (I hope)
Mon 18 May Final paper due, 9am

Extra stuff on categorial grammar

This is beyond what we will talk about in this class, but if you're curious to know more about categorial grammar you might be interesting in reading about "type-logical" categorial grammar (TLG). It differs from the "combinatory" categorial grammar (CCG) that we have studied in taking the mathematical/logical interpretation of slashes very seriously: for example, thinking of A/B meaning "A divided by B" or "B implies A". (If you find yourself confused about logical implication and introduction and elimination rules when reading this stuff, have a look at Partee et al., chapter 6.)

One word of warning: in the TLG literature, the meaning of the backslash is different from its meaning in CCG, so A\B is looking for an A to its left, in order to then make up a B. The idea behind this is that B/A and A\B both have A "underneath" B, because in both cases it's a form of "B divided by A".

Back up to Tim's web page